Recovery hopes could be premature as retail sales drop


A fall in retail sales in August has dampened hopes of a high street recovery.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) confirmed that UK retail sales values fell 0.1% on a like-for-like basis from August 2008. This was in part due to the poor weather during this period. On a total basis, sales rose 2.2% against a 1.4% gain in August 2008.

Food sales continued to do better than non-food with food sales growth edged up only slightly from July's low. Clothing and footwear weakened further and homewares and furniture sales fell back below year-earlier levels after July's weather- and clearance-driven growth.

Non-food non-store sales (internet, mail-order and phone sales) were 7.9% higher than a year ago, the weakest since May.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, commented:

“The stronger figures of June and July haven't been sustained. It's clear the deceptively good sales growth of those months was due to summer sun and price cuts – not any major revival in how customers are feeling. What spending we now have is all about value and essentials.”

Sharon Hardiman, head of non-store retailing, said:

"Sales of non-food goods continue to outperform store sales but they are not immune from the impact of the recession on customers’ ability and willingness to spend.”

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